Back to: Creative Plan Overview

Creative Plan, Research and Resources

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value

Buckminster Fuller “Knowledge Doubling Curve”

Buckminster Fuller Institute

According to Buckminster Fuller’s “Knowledge Doubling Curve,” human knowledge doubles every 18 months. This was written in 1982. This was before the internet age. While there may be certain problems with the specifics of a statement like this, there is no denying the general truth. Human knowledge is growing fast. We went from the first airplane in 1901 to the first man in space in 1961.


MIT Best way to predict technological advances

The Future is Coming Faster than We Think

What is the Technological Singularity

Technological Singularity

Social Progress Imperative

Analysis of the Social Progress Imperative

Money won’t make Social Progress

Ted Talk Analysis of Social Progress Imperative


Timeline of Technology

Technology Timeline



Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value

Intrinsic value is the value that a thing has in its own right simply because of what it is. It does not rely on external measurement.

Extrinsic value is anything that is not intrinsic.

Many philosophers believe that intrinsic value is necessary to defining what is morally right or wrong and ensuring moral responsibility.

There are 4 types of moral judgment?

What is intrinsic value? OR What has intrinsic value?

Many philosophers felt that intrinsic value was so obvious that it did not need to be defined. Modern thinking (the past 100 years) is beginning to question that.

My Thoughts: I think we have to question that. When I read the first words, the first thing that I thought was “I have been using this word too casually.” I obviously knew what the word meant, but frequent usage has led to lazy usage. I think there are very few things that can truly have intrinsic value. That would be assuming there is no subjectivity. BUT, I think it is important to consider the question. Which leads me to a digression…

The Digression: We cannot be absolutely certain of anything. If we always come back to the answer that “well, we can’t know” we enter a spiral that leads to infinite questioning…

The Digression’s Digression: I think that many people use this as an excuse to descend into nihilism. It’s like they are saying that if they can’t ever possibly know the ultimate answer then nothing matters at all. I think that is cowardly and lazy and I think that it is quite the opposite of what infinite questioning really means. I think that if we are in a state of infinite questions, that does not mean nothing matters. It means everything matters. If we can never know the answers, then there are limitless possibilities. It presents itself to me in an astounding visual image of open space that goes on forever so that no matter where you go, there will always be something more to see. And so, my digression has digressed.

The Return of the Digression: Anyway… “for all practical purposes” is a very important phrase. I could go on about why I think that something is true, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you simply can’t spend time having those discussions. You go down a rabbit hole of theory and end up with Digressions of Digressions of digressions of digressions of digressions… until you forget whatever it was you digressed from. Sometimes you need to establish a starting point as a philosophical “given.” It is important that we understand that the subsequent argument is based on the idea that “if this is true” because someday we may find that whatever the “this” was not true after all and we need to revise our thinking. However, if we don’t begin somewhere then everything we ever argue would end up in a long string all the way back to “No one knows” and that is simply not functional.

OHH! Idea Log – The Digression would make a really funny image.

That said: I think the idea of the infinite question suggests that using “givens” is not only acceptable, but desirable. To personify the idea, If the Universe is designed so that it requires us to constantly question everything then that must be its ultimate value. Questioning becomes the only thing to be intrinsically valuable. If however, questioning were the only thing, then there would be no actual substance. It would be an infinite idea. All that exists seems to me to be the answers to questions. And so, to exist is to seek answers is also intrinsically valuable. In order to seek answers you must be willing to gather evidence. The things that we accept as true are simply the ideas which are reinforced with the most evidence. They may not be absolutely true, but they are close enough for “practical purposes.”

Back to My Thoughts: We have to consider the question “What has intrinsic value” because those are the places that define our moral judgment. While I can spend pages writing about why I think something has intrinsic value, most of the time, all anyone needs to know is the starting place “this has intrinsic value” so that we can move on to the “therefore” and explain the thinking.

Philosophers have defined simple things like pelasure and pain as intrniscally good or bad. Others expanded the list to contain many more things like “freedom” and “peace.” Some more modern thinkers have included enviornmental entities like “nature” and “the universe”

confirmation basis

My Thoughts: None of these things satisfy me. They are all quite subjective and easily argued. Even when you move on to things like “nature” or the biggest of all “the universe” you still have problems because you are implying that you somehow know the answers. You know what nature deems good and bad. It is also very much a personification. It is to assign desire (as I did above) to a subject that we may not have desires at all and even if it does, certainly may not have desires which we are capable of understanidng or that even include us as more than peripheral oramentation. That kind of thinking just sounds like a more modern version of “god.”

Digression: When th eBible says “I am that I am” thewriter is acknowledging that there are questions man can not know the answer to. He is simply adding to the thought by saying that some anthropomorphized force does know and that man is not allowed to be given that answer. And this, is the problem with christianity. It tells us that God is the starting point and we have no right to ask questions that preceed the starting point. Fuck that. It also implies that man can not ever be fullfilled if he tries to answer those questions. Fuck that with a big hairy limp one. No thankyou very much.

We can not understand if something has intrinsic value unless we know what intrinsic value is

for its own sake as opposed to for the sake of something else to which it is related in some way

Why did you do this? It is good. Why is it good? It is good because it is good… and so on until you reach a point that something must be good for its own sake. Its goodness is non derivative

It is almost universally acknowledged among philosophers that all value is “supervenient” on certain nonevaluative features of the thing that has value. Roughly, what this means is that, if something has value, it will have this value in virtue of certain nonevaluative features that it has; its value can be attributed to these features.

supervenient /ˌsuːpəˈviːnɪənt/ (adjective)

  1. supervening
  2. (philosophy) (of a property) inseparable from the other properties of something. Two objects may be identical except that one is red and the other not, but they cannot be identical except that one is beautiful and the other not; beauty is thus a supervenient property

Piaget, Kohlberg etc

Moral judgment goes through developmental stages. Children learn from parents. Parents try to fit in. etc etc etc. This is all fairly obvious.